- Awesome Music: Yes, indeed!
- First Installment Wins: RayForce is generally regarded as the best game in the series due to its impressive use of scaling and rotating sprites, making it one of the most 3D-looking sprite-based games in existence. RayStorm and RayCrisis are not as highly-regarded due to 3D graphics that haven't aged well, the isometric perspective creating problems with dodging enemy fire, and same-altitude lock-on and the bonus-point opportunities that go with it discouraging players from using their main shot.
- Genius Bonus: If you're good at history of the Roman Empire, you'll understand a lot more about RayStorm, including the bosses and the storyline.
- Narm: The Japanese version of RayCrisis has one of the bosses named "Sem-Slut," renamed to "Sem-Strut" in the English localization. This wasn't the case with the European PC port.
- Porting Disaster:
- RayForce's (a.k.a. Layer Section) PC port is serviceable, but it comes with some glaring problems. One of them being the game screen itself, which has been reduced to a square to fit in a 4:3 aspect ratio that was never intended for the game originally designed with a vertical display, making the game harder than it should since you can't anticipate oncoming enemies or lock-on to them as efficiently as you could in the arcade, console, and mobile version. Unlike the PC ports of its sequels, the fullscreen scaling does not work properly on newer Windows operating systems and 16:9 monitors, which often results a smaller screen size with color distortion despite being running in 640×480. Another game-breaking issue is the game's speed, where it plays ridiculously fast on faster computers to the point of it being unplayable. While the latter can be addressed with a simple .dll fix if you have the game disc, but fullscreen issue can only fixed by a third-party program DirectX wrapper such as DXGL to play the game with proper scaling. Other problems includes missing effects and backgrounds, some of the music tracks don't play at all (such as the Game Over music), and you don't have the disc into your CD drive, then enjoy playing the game with no music at all.
- The Sega Saturn port of RayStorm (Layer Section II) introduces some novelties it has over the PlayStation version, such as new CGI cinematics in between stages and a playable R-GRAY 0 outside of 13-Plane Mode, but due to the Saturn's notorious 3D handicap, the graphics were understandably downgraded but its biggest problem was its frame-rate, which bogs down substantially when the action intensifies and can cause input lag despite the cutbacks on the game's visuals.
- Polished Port:
- The PC port of RayStorm and RayCrisis has higher resolution than their arcade counterparts (at 640×480), and improved audible sound effects over the PlayStation version (e.g. you can hear sound of R-GRAY 2's laser beams and the ambient machine noise of Yggdrasil). Despite being released for Windows 95/98, both games runs quite well on modern systems (unless you're on Windows 8 or 8.1 where older DirectX support is botched, resulting in lower frame-rate with these games) and those with higher-end machines can enjoy the almost non-existent loading times. The only downside of the PC version of RayStorm that it lacks the optional TANZ soundtrack of the Extra Mode the console versions have and requires the disc to run the game, and RayCrisis' port is based on the PlayStation version which lacks co-op multiplayer.
- The HD version of RayStorm may not have the PC version's superior sound quality, but the visuals has been nicely upgraded for HD and you have an unlockable R-GRAY 0 that plays like the RVA-818-X-LAY fighter from RayForce instead of an inferior R-GRAY 1 and the Difficult, but Awesome R-GEAR to play around with, along with online leaderboards and sharable replays. Also, for those who live in North America and had to deal with Working Designs' Japanese-default-difficulty mockery, this port lets you complete the game on any difficulty you want, though at the expense of individual difficulty sliders for each stage.
- The mobile ports of these games featured higher resolution visuals and UI, a new but optional remixed track for their first stage (while the Amazon versions of RayForce and RayStorm gets an exclusive remix for the second stage), touch controls that are very welcoming to newcomers to shoot 'em ups along with controller support (after updates were released) for those that want to play these games with traditional controls instead, and in the case of RayCrisis, the first time it gets a faithful port of the arcade version with its seemless connection between stages and co-op mode intact along with the Special Mode from the home versions. A few small caveats with these ports however are RayStorm's inability to chose between soundtracks for its Remix Mode (a.k.a. Extra Mode) and difficulty sliders of individual stages similarly to the HD remastered version, and their lack the various unlockables that their home conversions had (e.g. 13-Plane Mode in RayStorm plus the new ships from HD, the unlockable R-GRAY ships and Gallery in RayCrisis) due to being primarily based off their arcade versions.
- Scrappy Mechanic:
- Only one word for RayCrisis — "Encroachment". Explanation
- Working Designs did a bit of Easy-Mode Mockery and Difficulty by Region for RayStorm's PS1 port. First, the default difficulty has been bumped from 2 in the Japanese version to 4. Second, if you set any stage's difficulty below 4 or change your live count above the default of 3, the game puts you in "Training Mode", which ends the game after Stage 4. The game lets you set Stages 5-8 to below level 4 difficulty, but in a display of oversight on Working Design's part, you will still be denied entry to those stages. In other words, it's Streets of Rage 3 all over again.
- That One Boss: Alaric from RayStorm. A huge transforming mecha that can turn into a fighter craft similar to yours, has two vicious drones that can snipe you with a laser beam and homing missiles while Alaric itself use a beam bazooka and machine gun in its mech form while its fighter form can rain down nasty arching lasers from the background that covers nearly the entire screen and a tricky-to-avoid spread shot in the foreground. If you think blowing up its bazooka would help (either shooting them directly or whittling Alaric's HP down), you'll be in for a rude warning when it starts using the shoulder-mounted laser cannons the can fire in a huge spread and covers more the screen with its machine gun.
- Tear Jerker: The ending of RayForce. Our un-named heroine dies when the resulting explosion hit her RVA-818-X-LAY fighter, destroying it along with Earth. The final seconds of the credits pans to what remains of the wrecked fighter, and then we see the dashboard displaying Mission Complete just before the ship's power finally dies.
- Also, the true ending of RayCrisis due to being Doomed by Canon.
- RayStorm as well. Consider that you just committed genocide of an entire planet in order to stop a rebellion. The 13-ship mode makes it even sadder, as Earth itself got destroyed as well, and the player's ship was left to drift in space, never to be found again.
- That One Attack: The tricky-to-dodge "Taito Homing Lasers", which have also appeared in the Darius series.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There is no version of RayCrisis that seamlessly plays the 23-minute track "Blue - the day you live on earth". In the PS1 version, the music fades out completely as you load into the next stage before jumping to a later segment of the track, and even in the smartphone versions where the other gameplay tracks play seamlessly, "Blue" still jumps sections, just on the beat and without any gaps.
- Tough Act to Follow: None of the sequels have replicated the same critical acclaim that RayForce did, due to substituting the fantastic 2D scaling and rotating effects for more generic polygons, an annoying Three Quarters View, and implementing changes that throw the scoring meta out of balance.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: RayForce in particular is well-known for its intensive use of sprite scaling and rotating that could put the Super NES to shame. The fact that its sequels go full-3D, thus discarding the use of these effects, is part of what makes them so contentuous.
YMMV / RAY Series